Employees More Confident in Salary Bargaining Power

Males and job seekers in the youngest generation were more likely to ask for higher compensation.

Today’s job seekers are more confident in their power to bargain over starting salary, suggests new research from global staffing firm Robert Half.


More than half of professionals surveyed (55%) tried to negotiate a higher salary with their last employment offer, a 16-point jump from a similar survey released in 2018. Sixty-eight percent of male employees tried to negotiate pay, versus 45% of women. More professionals ages 18 to 34 (65%) asked for higher compensation compared to those ages 35 to 54 (55%) and 55 and older (38%).


A separate survey finds many employers are willing to make a deal with candidates: 70% of senior managers said they expect some back-and-forth on salary. About six in 10 are more open to negotiating compensation (62%) and nonmonetary perks and benefits (59%) than they were a year ago.


“Job seekers with specialized skills are in high demand and may even be entertaining multiple offers,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half. “With the odds in their favor, it’s little wonder more professionals are comfortable negotiating not only salary but also nonmonetary benefits, such as vacation days, flexible schedules and professional development.”


A previous Robert Half Finance & Accounting survey of CFOs found more than nine in 10 (93%) said it’s challenging to find skilled candidates for professional-level positions.


The most recent online surveys include responses from more than 2,700 workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments and more than 2,800 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in 28 major U.S. cities.